Amsterdam is the capital and largest city of the Netherlands, it is a financial and cultural centre of europe.
The city, situated in the province of North Holland, has a population nearing 1.5 million people and is part of one of Europe's largest metropolitan zones, the Randstad, which is home to almost 7 million people, and one of the widest varieties of nationalities anywhere in the world. Amsterdam is located on flatland, most of which was reclaimed. Amstel river terminates in the city centre where it connects to numerous canals which in their turn terminate in the IJ bay. Its cool oceanic climate is generally mild due to the proximity of the North Sea.
The canals, cafes, buildings, museums, and generously liberal culture await you! Amsterdam has an experience for everyone, and our selection of cheap hotels in Amsterdam ensures that you will be living close to many of them. See our range of cheap accommodation in Amsterdam and some great hotel deals and discount hotels that deliver comfort affordably.
The town has started to form around the 12th century fishing village called Amstellerdam, named after a dam on the Amstel river. About a century later, the town was known as Aemsterdam, and an alleged miracle in Kalverstraat on March 12, 1345, made it an important pilgrimage site. The event is still commemorated by the Stille Omgang which is an annual silent procession.
The oldest quayside precinct, de Wallen, lies east of the Damrak, which serves as the main street, and includes some of the oldest buildings in the city, Oude Kerk church (1306) and the 15th century wooden house Houten Huys. The infamous red light district is also located there. The old Jewish quarter of Waterlooplein lies to the south.
In late 16th century, Amsterdam rebelled against its Spanish rulers and became a part of the Dutch Republic. Its relative tolerance has led to a large influx of economic and religious refugees from all over Europe, and made Amsterdam the centre for free press, as well as a major merchant port. The Dutch Renaissance style has left numerous impressive buildings, including the Westerkerk church.
The 17th century is thought of as Amsterdam's Golden Age. It was the wealthiest city in the world, a diamonds and finance centre connected to destinations all over the world.
The overseas possessions of Dutch East India Company and the Dutch West India Company in America, Asia and Africa formed the basis for Holland's colonial empire, and the Dutch East India Company has founded the world's oldest stock exchange (AEX) in 1602. It was also the time associated with the work of Benedict Spinoza and Rembrandt van Rijn both of whom lived in Amsterdam.
The famous canal system, Grachtengordel, has been developed in that time, some of them were for residential development, and some served defense purposes. As the centuries passed, some canals were filled in and turned into streets and squares. Hortus Botanicus, founded in the early 17th century, is one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world with many old and rare plants.
The city has experienced some decline in the 18th and early 19th centuries but bounced back by early 20th century when its port was connected to the Rhine and the North Sea by canals, the industrial growth led to major expansion of the city which also gained a train station, parks including the popular Vondelpark, theatres, concert halls and new museums on Museumplein.
The very large Rijksmuseum has an important collection of classic Dutch painting, including the work of Rembrandt and his pupils. Van Gogh Museum, also on Museumplein, is focused on the artist's early works which include some of his most famous pieces, and is the most visited museum in Amsterdam. It is adjacent to Stedelijk Museum which collects modern art. Concertgebouw, home to the Royal symphony orchestra, is considered to have some of the world's best acoustics. The square itself is a popular site for festivals and outdoor concerts.
The new suburbs have expanded the city beyond its original 17th century boundaries, and the former working class districts Jordaan and de Pijp have since been gentrified. The city has several notable Jugendstil buildings and even developed its own version of Art Deco, the Amsterdamse School, with highly decorated and ornate facades.
The Netherlands remained neutral during First World War but during the Second one it was occupied by Germany. More than 100,000 Jews were deported from Holland to Nazi concentration camps. One of them has been a teenager named Anne Frank who is famous for keeping a diary during her two years in hiding before she died at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. The house where here family sheltered has now been turned into museum. In 1947 Queen Wilhelmina bestowed the official motto on the city, "Valiant, Determined, Compassionate," in recognition of its bravery.
In the 1970s, as Amsterdam faced inner city decline, attempts to demolish much of the city centre were halted by protests, however, metro system started to operate. The historic central areas were instead restored and are now protected.
The city is known for its diversity and tolerant attitudes, and is one of Europe's top tourist destinations, attracting more than 3.5 million international travellers annually. The attractions include the museums and the historic sites, as well as red light district and the cannabis coffee shops.
There is a developed network of hotels in Amsterdam. Two thirds of the Amsterdam hotels are located in the city centre. Of the hotel beds in Amsterdam, nearly half is in the four or five star hotels. You can book last minute hotels in Amsterdam and enjoy Amsterdam's vibrant nightlife which is famous worldwide, with much of it concentrated in Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein with their famous dance clubs. Reguliersdwarsstraat is the main hub for the GLBT community and nightlife, although the Amsterdam Gay Pride boat parade in August travels through the city's canals. The city also boasts major live music venues, including Heineken Music Hall, Paradiso, Melkweg, OCCII, and the jazz-focussed Bimhuis, while its largest sporting venue is the Amsterdam ArenA, home to the Ajax Amsterdam FC. The Olympic stadium, built in the 1920s, has been restored and is still used.
The dining scene is also diverse, with numerous ethnic restaurants and traditional, old-fashioned cafes with terraces. Some of the more exquisite options are restaurants at the four- and five-star hotels in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam, being the business capital of the Netherlands, is home to some of the world's top companies including Philips, Heineken and and ABN Amro. The Zuidas district is the city's main financial and legal hub, and there are several smaller business districts.
Shopping opportunities in Amsterdam range from the large departmanet stores operating since 1870s to the busy shopping streets like Kalverstraat and the Negen Straatjes and the traditional open markets. The city has been a centre for youth culture since the 1960s, and is also a fashion industry hub.
Amsterdam is one of the world's most bicycle-friendly cities, and the number of bicycles in use is close to half a million. Driving is discouraged in the city centre but being relatively small and well-served by the public transport, Amsterdam is easy to get around. There are buses, trams, ferries, water taxis, and several metro lines.
Amsterdam Central offers international rail service throughout Europe, to Russia, Switzerland or Denmark, and the city also enjoys continent-wide coach connections. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) is among the world's top airports as far as passenger numbers go, as there are close to 50 million people a year using it. It enjoys convenient connections with the Central Station.